2017 Program
About Us        

February 23, 2013
Chesapeake College
Wye Mills, MD
Mary McCarthy - Blogging & Web Writing for Dollars
Veteran blogger and Chesapeake Family Magazine Editor Mary McCarthy shares her experiences at blogging for fun and profit in this session exploring how to get paid for writing on the Web. You'll learn how blogs earn money from advertising and find out which websites pay freelancers to write on a regular basis. Mary also offers tips on Web writing and shows proven techniques for creating and maintaining a successful blog.

Mary McCarthy is the owner of, which is ranked the #1 Humor Blog. She has nearly two decades' experience in professional writing publications. She's also written for many websites, including, and appeared on Juju Chang's Moms Get Real and NBC's Today Show.

Kathryn Johnson - Conflict, Action and Suspense: Adding the Power that Sells
No matter what genre of novel you write, keeping your reader engaged and turning 
pages is the key to landing an agent, securing a publishing contract, and jump-starting 
a successful career as a novelist. This practical and effective hands-on workshop is all 
about using plot, emotion, and active scenes to drive a story with an intensity that will 
make your novel un-put-downable. Kathryn Johnson’s 42 novels have all sold to major 
New York publishers. Bring writing tools (laptop or paper/pen.)
Kathryn Johnson's most recent novel, The Gentleman Poet, is winner of the 2011 Bookseller’s 
Best Award for Young Adult Novels and the Reader’s Choice Award for 2011, sponsored by the 
Romance Writers of America. Kathryn teaches the popular Extreme Novelist class at 
The Writer’s Center, Bethesda. Her mentoring and editorial service ( 
helps authors, new and experienced, reach their publication goals.
Pat Valdata - Beyond Google: Tips for Researching Historical Fiction
Melanie Rigney -  Your Manuscript: Build It Right!
Your manuscript is like a house. It starts with a strong foundation--compelling characters,
gripping plot, eternal theme, believable dialogue--that must be comparable to the other places
in the neighborhood. Next comes the detail work--grammar, spelling, continuity. You'll get 
specific, actionable tips in this session. Bring your questions--and if you like, a one-page
synopsis and the first three pages of your manuscript.
Melanie Rigney is the owner of Editor for You (, a publishing consultancy. 
She has nearly thirty years' experience as an editor and writer, five as editor of Writers Digest.
In the past three years, Editor for You, has provided content and copy editing and 
manuscript evaluation services to more than 100 publishers, literary agents, and authors. Rigney 
writes inspirational nonfiction and fiction.
Lynn Schwartz - Using Creative TechniquesTo Find The Heart 
of Your Characters and Core of Your Story
Explore how acting exercises, creative journaling, collage, vision boards and writing 
prompts can inspire, focus and energize writers. Each technique is designed to connect 
writers to the core of their stories and the essence of their characters. Participants will 
learn how to apply a variety of thought-provoking exercises to fit the needs of their
individual projects. For writers of all levels. 
Lynn Schwartz’s plays have been performed in Atlanta and New York City, her stories 
have appeared in literary journals, and she has written numerous lifestyle features. 
She founded the Temple Bar Literary Reading Series in New York City and received 
an Individual Artist Award in Fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council. She teaches
at St. John’s College and The Writer’s Center. Contact her at
Laura Oliver - A Matter of Style: Putting Your Personality on the Page
What makes a Big Six publisher fall in love with a manuscript?  Charm, voice, and personality! Like the chemistry of attraction it is style that makes your work irresistible.  Style is your single competitive edge.  Learn to turn your skillfully written manuscript into a captivating one. Discover effective ways to express your unique depth, experience, and humor. In fiction or non-fiction, style is putting the essence of your being—your fresh and enticing voice---into your work.  Captivate, fascinate, publish.
Laura Oliver is the author of The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers 
(Penguin Books, 2011) In addition, she is an award-winning writer whose fiction and 
essays are published in national newspapers and magazines and top-tier literary reviews. 
She is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Fiction 
and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has taught both fiction and 
essay writing at the University of Maryland and currently teaches writing workshops 
at St. John’s College and The Writer’s Center. Her website is
Khris Baxter - Screenwriting Techniques for Writing Effective Dialogue
Dialogue is not conversation, it’s a negotiation. It’s more than putting words into your character’s 
mouth. Looking at the work of dialogue masters like Nelson DeMille, Elmore Leonard, Richard Price, 
Annie Proulx, et al., whose novels and short stories have been adapted to the screen, Khris Baxter 
will discuss crafting dialogue that reveals character, advances plot, and makes your writing come 
Khris Baxter is a screenwriter, producer, and script consultant. His body of work includes five optioned
screenplays and one produced film. He teaches screenwriting at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, 
and at the low-residency MFA at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. He's a member of the Virginia Film 
Office where he is a judge for the annual Virginia Screenwriting Competition. Khris is the founder of Story 
Lab, a production and development company based in Washington, DC. 

Austin Camacho - Let's Write a Mystery
Mindie Burgoyne 
Social Networking---Facebook &  LinkedIn - Come explore the basics of Facebook and how writers use the social network to connect with readers, agents and publishers. The session will demystify Facebook publishing, including how status updates, news feeds, the new Timeline profile and Facebook Pages for businesses work. Mindie also shows how writers can connect their blogs and other social media tools to Facebook to  reach more people. The session will offer an overview of how to develop new contacts through LinkedIn, the social network for career development. 
Broadcast Yourself: Blogging &  YouTube 
Learn how to broadcast yourself and your work on the Web's leading video 
sharing platform, YouTube, and how to use video effectively by embedding 
YouTube video clips into your blog. Blogging is one of the most influential 
social media tools writers can use; adding video is a great way to make 
your blog even more popular. Learn how to use YouTube and other ways to 
make your blog come to life in this session.
Mindie Burgoyne, former publisher of Trinity Music and The Pastoral Press,
has written three books-–-all focused on Maryland. Her articles and music
compositions have been featured in numerous magazines and on the Today
Show. She served as an advisor to National Geographic Television Network
and has been a featured guest on National Public Radio affiliates. Her 
website is:

Angela Render - Marketing in the Digital Age 


Sue Ellen Thompson--- Revising Your Poetry 
All you have to do is to read the early drafts of a well-known poem to realize how crucial 
revision is.  This session will focus on how to distance yourself from your poem so that you 
can identify its weaknesses.  We will examine the strategies other poets have used to get 
“unstuck” and take a look at various approaches to the revision process so that you can get 
some ideas about what might work for you. 
Sue Ellen Thompson’s fourth volume of poetry, The Golden Hour, appeared in June 2006 
and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, her second nomination. She recently edited The 
Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. Ms. Thompson teaches at 
The Writer's Center in Bethesda and will begin teaching at the University of Delarware in
February. She was the winner of the 2010 Maryland Author Award. 
The Poetry of DesireA Panel moderated by Sue Ellen Thompson with J.Wesley Clark, 
Amanda Newell and Barrett Warner. 
How to write about love and desire without sounding sentimental or clichéd is a challenge that 
faces poets of all ages, from love-struck high school students to aging spouses. This panel will 
examine a variety of approaches to writing about desire, with an emphasis on how to avoid 
embarrassing yourself or your readers.
Barrett Warner lives and works at a farm in the Gunpowder River watershed north of 
Baltimore. His chapbook Til I'm Blue in the Face was published by Tropos Press, and
he has new work appearing in Natural Bridge. He has had poems published in The 
Comstock Review, Roanoke Review, Baltimore Review, and Gargoyle
Amanda Newell recently won the 2010 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize for a chapbook-length 
poetry collection. Her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet
Lore, The Delmarva Review, The Summerset Review, and The Little Patuxent Review. She 
was a contributor at the 2010 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Amanda teaches at Gunston 
Day School in Centreville, Maryland.
J. Wesley Clark has published over five hundred poems and many short stories. His work has appeared in Bogg, Chiron Review, The Delmarva Review, Galley Sail Review, Gargoyle, Illya's Honey, Passager, Red Rock Review, RiverSedge and the Texas Observer. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2009 and 2010.
Anne Colwell - Generating Ideas for Poetry: Hot-wiring the Imagination
If we wait around for the universe to give us the keys to poems, we wait a long time. But there 
are ways to get the imagination started; you just have to know a little about the engine. In this 
workshop, we will discuss creative "hotwiring" and do some exercises that can spark the poetic
Anne Colwell, whose first book, Believing Their Shadows, was published by Word Press in 
2010, has published in many literary print and online reviews. She received an Established 
Artist Award in Poetry and an Emerging Artist Award in Fiction from the Delaware State Arts 
Gregg Wilhelm Taking Self-Publishing Seriously
Conversations about whether the democratization of the publishing process is good or 
bad are over. Writers of every type are eliminating the middleman and taking matters into 
their own hands. But are they taking things seriously?  Writers need to create terrific books
(print or electronic) and be able to get those books to readers (and budget wisely, and hire
shrewdly, and  keep accounts accurately). Oh, yeah, and write well! You got what you've 
always wanted, self-publishers: higher regard in the community and more power in the 
marketplace. Now what? All efforts will be for naught if you do not take self-publishing seriously.
Gregg Wilhelm is Executive Director of CityLit Project, which he founded in  Baltimore in 2004.
He has been an editor, designer, production manager, and marketer with various publishers. 
Gregg serves as publisher of CityLit Press and teaches in the School of Communications Design 
at the University of Baltimore.
Leonard Kinsey -  How to Make Thousands from a Single e-Book Release
In August 2011, Leonard Kinsey self-published The Dark Side of Disney in paperback and in multiple e-book formats. Within one month e-book sales had passed the $1K mark, and 
only increased from there. In this entertaining and empowering session Kinsey goes through 
the entire e-book process, explaining formatting, file conversion, uploading, pricing, marketing, 
and accounting/payments. 
Leonard Kinsey is the author of The Dark Side of Disney, a humorous and irreverent self-
published Walt Disney World travel guide. Kinsey cut his teeth in the media world as an audio 
engineer and robotic camera operator at CNN International, and in recent years has self-published
a comic book and written and directed an internationally distributed feature film. He is also the 
guitarist in a rock band that appeared on a hit FOX show and released two critically acclaimed 
Shannon O'Neill - Finding and Working with an Agent
How do you start the process of looking for an agent---and for that matter, how do you even 
know if you need one? This session will cover the ins and outs of finding and working with an 
agent, and we'll go over the basics of what makes a good query letter. We'll also discuss 
author platform and how to be your own best advocate through the publishing and publicity 
Shannon O'Neill is an editorial consultant with Sagalyn Literary Agency in Bethesda 
( and the Marketing Manager at Politics and Prose bookstore 
( She also teaches writing at American University in  
Washington, DC. She has a Masters of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and 
graduated with honors from Dartmouth College.
Regional Magazine Editors Panel: What Writers Need to Know from
Magazine Editors
Terry Plowman, moderator, and John Lewis, and Holly Smith
Publishers and editors from four Delmarva regional magazines will reveal what they are 
looking for from freelance writers. They will focus on what types of stories interest their readers. 
This panel will also provide the details of their magazines’ submission guidelines, compensation 
potential, and the best way to develop a working relationship with a magazine editor.
Terry Plowman, Publisher and Editor of Delaware Beach Life.

John Lewis, arts and culture editor/columnist and arts blogger at Baltimore Magazine
John Lewis is an award-winning writer of magazine profiles and arts criticism. 
Holly Smith, Managing Editor, Maryland Life.
February 25, 2012
15th Annual Conference Program
Below is last year's lineup:
(For the 2013 program lineup, see this page.

The conference sessions address writing craft, inspiration, publishing, marketing and up-to-date uses of the Internet. Sessions are designed to educate and motivate writers of all levels. Our experienced speakers include authors, poets, film writers, writing instructors, editors, and publishers.  Expert manuscript reviews will also be offered (see "Manuscripts" page.) 

A pdf download of the 2012 schedule is available for printing (to the right, under the photo). As always, the day begins with a continental breakfast, followed by a choice of four to five sessions in each of five time slots. A networking lunch takes place in the Caroline Building cafeteria from 11:45 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Creating a Blog or Website in One Hour
Setting up a blog or website gets easier every year with simple, pre-designed page templates that require no technical skills to use. In this session, you'll get step-by-step instructions on how to set up a free blog and/or website, add your own text and photos, and post new content. You'll also learn how to use keywords to get noticed by search engines. The session will offer tips and strategies to writers on how to market their work through blogs.
Twitter for Writers
Learn how Twitter is helping millions of writers conduct research, identify trends, market their books to new audiences, and network with people in the publishing industry. Leslie Walker shows how Twitter works and explains how authors are tweeting their way into the hearts and minds of new readers and fans, 140 characters at a time. 
A mystery novelist, Austin Camcho is a popular speaker and instructor on the craft of writing at Anne Arundel Community College. The author of five detective and two action adventure novels, he is a past president of the Maryland Writer's Association. 
He blogs at
Approximately 3 million new titles published by traditional houses and self-publishers in 2010. Every writer knows---or soon learns---that it takes multiple revisions to create a piece ready to compete for book buyers' attention. But where do you start? This talk will introduce you to the most common problems that plague written works and offer simple ways to identify and resolve them in your own novel, short story, or memoir.
Ally E. Peltier is chief editor, writer, and publishing consultant for Ambitious Enterprises, a creative services boutique. Ally formerly acquired and edited books for Touchstone Fireside/Simon & Schuster and for more than a decade has freelanced for individuals and publishers such as Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kaplan Publishing, Chronicle Books, Rodale Inc., and more. She speaks regularly on publishing and writing-related topics. Learn more at and her blog
Leslie Walker is a pioneer in Internet news. Currently the Knight Visiting Professor in Digital Innovation at the University of   Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, she spent 16 years as a reporter, columnist, and editor for The Washington Post, much of it chronicling how the Internet transformed media economics. 
Ally Peltier - Polishing Your Work for Publication 
This session offers advice to authors on how to market books online and offline. Angela introduces all the major marketing platforms, from direct mail to websites, blogs, social networks, online communities and various forms of advertising. You'll learn how to create a marketing campaign customized to your needs, including the basics of building a mailing list and using electronic newsletters.
Angela Render is a professional web developer and Internet marketer who writes nonfiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and cross-genre romantica. Her work has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine Online and Writers' Journal. The second edition of her  workbook, Marketing for Writers will be available in January of 2012.  She also teaches classes on Internet marketing for writers, The Writers' Center, Bethesda . Learn more about Angela at or
Fay Jacobs - Is It Real or Is It Memoir?

A frank talk about truth in memoir, the rules of the road for writing memoir, and a kick-start to get you on your way or help you fine tune your work. You'll learn the tools of the trade for mining memories and putting them on paper---whether it's just for yourself or for publication. As a bonus, attendees will learn a foolproof method for curing writer's block.

Fay Jacobs spent 30 years in Washington working in journalism, public relations and theater. She is the publisher of A&M Books, a successor to the legendary Naiad Press. Her first book, As I Lay Frying-–A Rehoboth Beach Memoir (2004) is in its 3rd printing. A second essay collection, Fried & True-–-Tales from Rehoboth Beach won the 2008 National Federation of Press Women Book of the Year for humor. Her latest, For Frying Out Loud-–- Rehoboth Beach Diaries won a ForeWord Reviews Humor Book of the Year, a Goldie Award, American Library Association Over the Rainbow nomination and the 2011 National Federation of Press Women Book of the Year Award. Contact Fay at 
Cynthia Blake Sanders - Seven Things to Know Before You Sign on the Dotted Line
Before you sign that book deal, learn how copyright law protects writers and which publishing provisions favor writers and which favor publishers. Cynthia Sanders has worked for both publishers and writers and helps writers understand their rights under copyright and publishing laws. 
Cynthia Blake Sanders is an attorney with the law firm of Ober/Kaler, advising media and advertising clients regarding intellectual property protection, licensing, and business issues. Advising clients in media and advertising, Cynthia seeks to find ballast for her clients as the media industry teeters between convergence and obsolescence. Because the law is rapidly changing as media evolves, Cythia frequently speaks to groups on topics of copyright, fair use and commercial speech.
Writing Craft
Detective novelist Austin Camacho will explain the steps he takes to build a story with twists, turns and carefully planted clues hidden in plain sight. After revealing the basic tricks that make a good mystery story, Austin will walk the class through the process and have the group write a new mystery---live!
Austin Camacho - Creating Characters a Reader Wants to Know  

People may start reading because of a good plot idea, but they keep reading because they get interested in the characters. In this class, Austin Camacho shows you how to develop characters that will draw readers into your story.
Rebecca York - How to Write a Romance Novel and Get It Published.

This session will explain the elements that must be in every romance (for example the story’s focus on the hero and heroine and the happy ending) while describing the tremendous expansion of the field to include everything from inspirational, paranormal, and erotic romances to romantic thrillers and romantic suspense. Both print and e-publishers of romances will be covered. 
Rebecca York (aka Ruth Glick) is a U.S. A. Today best-selling author and the author of more than 100 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her many awards include two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times Book Club Magazine, the RWA Centennial Award and two Rita Finalists books. 
What did people eat for breakfast in Iron-Age Britain? Was there a full moon the night Colonel Mustard shot Professor Plum in the conservatory? The Internet has made it much easier to find the answers to these questions, but there are many other sources that should not be overlooked when you need information. This session will cover a variety of ways to uncover realistic details for characters and settings in historical fiction (and that term can mean work set in the recent past, not just “long, long ago").
Pat Valdata’s historical novel, The Other Sister (Plain View Press, 2008), won a gold medal from the Árpád Academy in 2009. Pat’s other books include the novel Crosswind (Wind Canyon Books, 1997), a new book of poetry titled Inherent Vice (Pecan Grove Press, 2011), and a chapbook, Looking for Bivalve, Pecan Grove Press, 2002). Pat writes the birding olumn “Winged Adventures” for Cecil Soil magazine. She teaches writing an adjunct associate professor for UMUC.
A mystery novelist, Austin Camcho is a popular speaker and instructor on the craft of writing at Anne Arundel Community College. The author of five detective and two action adventure novels, he is a past president of the Maryland Writer's Association. He blogs at  
Digital Tools for Writers
Leslie Walker -